Government Response to Regulating Cosmetic Interventions

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

Yesterday, the Government published its response to a major review of cosmetic procedures in the UK following the PIP breast implants scandal.

The review was led by Sir Bruce Keogh and published 10 months ago. In recent years there has been a huge increase in cosmetic procedures, in particular non-surgical interventions such as dermal filler injections for wrinkles. In his review, Sir Bruce said that increasing numbers of almost entirely unregulated high street clinics offering the services was “a crisis waiting to happen”.

The Government has now agreed with the “overwhelming majority” of Sir Bruce’s recommendations, including legislation to make it illegal for anyone to inject dermal fillers without training and introducing a registry of breast implants. However, dermal fillers will not be reclassified as prescription-only, which was a key recommendation made by surgical professionals.

There are also no plans for a compulsory register of practitioners of non-surgical cosmetic procedures and staff who give dermal filler injections will only have to be “overseen” by a doctor or health professional.  A “more rigorous” consent process will be introduced for cosmetic surgery but the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) said that loopholes would allow “fly in, fly out” plastic surgeons to operate without personally agreeing consent with the patient.

BAAPS said it was “no less than appalled” with what it deemed a failure to regulate “the Wild West” of the high street cosmetic industry. New rules on cosmetic procedures will leave the public “no better protected” and represent “a thoroughly wasted opportunity” to crack down on unsafe practitioners, plastic surgeons have said.

Rajiv Grover, consultant plastic surgeon and president of BAAPS, said that legislators had paid only “lip service” to warnings from surgeons. He said, “the fact that there is no requirement for the actual surgeon involved to provide consent for the procedure makes a mockery of the entire process,” he said. “It’s business as usual in the Wild West and the message from the Government is clear: roll up and feel free to have a stab.”

Another professional body, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), said it was concerned that a proposed register of people performing non-surgical procedures would only be voluntary, warning that it could create “a two-tier system.”

Tim Goodacre, BAPRAS’ chair of professional standards, said that, “together with the British Association of Dermatologists and BAAPS, we wrote to health minister Dan Poulter in December 2013 to outline the need for this register to be mandatory and we are deeply disappointed that this has been ignored.”

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